This Learning Gets In Your Bones
Scott Acomba is an intern in The Haven's training program. In this article, he shares his experience at The Haven and his journey from Come Alive participant to joining the program’s leadership team as an intern. To learn more about our training programs – diplomas and certificates, click here.
Interning Come Alive has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have ever known ... full stop. To me, the most powerful aspect of Haven learning is the fact that the programs are based on sound theory and then married to a physical/emotional “experience” that moves that learning from the one-dimensional realm of intellectual understanding to the three-dimensional understanding of the entire body. We don't simply learn the concepts … we embody them in our own individual way. We live and breathe them. That is the reason this learning becomes transformative and lasting. It gets in your bones.
It is like the difference between someone describing the concept of falling in love – and the actual experience of falling in love. You can't even compare the two. Until you experience something … you don't know what you don't know.
That said, it is one thing to learn and experience something for yourself … it is something completely different to try to communicate or teach that to another person. Interning a Come Alive is a great challenge for that reason and an opportunity to continue my own learning while giving something back to The Haven and to others.
When I came to The Haven for the first time, I was at a low point. My marriage was falling apart, my career was anemic, with me doing the minimum to survive, and I was looking back on 30+ years of depression and anxiety and knowing my life wasn’t going to change unless I found a way to change it. I was desperate enough to finally come to The Haven and take a Come Alive.
I remember on the ferry over to Gabriola talking to myself. I basically acknowledged that my decades’ long strategy of solving this “problem” with my intellect alone had utterly failed and I needed to trust the wisdom of my body. I actually said it explicitly out loud to myself: “I let go and trust the wisdom of my body and emotions. Take over and lead me on this journey because I don’t know what to do and I think you do.” Basically … I told my brain to take a time out.
My body heard and it did take over. My own first Come Alive experience was quite messy, but I came out the other side with a resolve that I had found my place of learning and was going to “do my work” here.
I allowed many of The Haven concepts to “wash over” me. I did not take many notes on the theory portion of the program since I had let go of trying to use my intellect to outsmart my “enemy” … my depression and anxiety. I had given up the hope that if I could somehow “figure out” this dark puzzle, I would be free. Like some kind of light bulb going on and magically changing things for me. The way out was through.
Beginning as a teenager I did counselling, therapy, took programs (Context, Landmark), I was in men’s groups in my early twenties, where I was always the youngest one in the room. I made real progress and moved my life forward, but there was always the inevitable slide back in to my familiar long-term low- to mid-level depression and anxiety.
Through taking many Haven courses over the last nine years and now interning I have changed the paradigm for me. I've largely made peace with my process and come to accept myself and my emotional reactions. I have gained access to the dark parts of myself and found the treasure in them. I have learned to ground myself in the very aspect I had tried so hard to run away from … my emotions … my body.
I knew at a certain point that interning would be the best way to continue my Haven learning. After taking Come Alive, Living Alive Phases I and II and a series of shorter programs, I became an intern at The Haven in 2015. The impact of becoming an intern at The Haven has been very positive.
Through my experiences interning several Come Alives, I've learned: That it is safe and OK for me to be truly myself in this world ... and not a small, defended version of myself. I've learned how to take responsibility for my emotional reactions and the stories I tell myself. How to truly own my life. How to bring myself forward, over and over again. Many times in the intern room I have been tempted to take the easy way out and not come forward when something was up for me. Through taking the risk of revealing myself in these moments, I've learned it is OK to make mistakes and not be perfect. When I do, amazing things can happen if I choose to remain present and congruent with myself and others.
Through learning how to embody Haven teachings and by modelling them for participants, I take these concepts from intellectual theories into real life. In between large and small group sessions I have practiced maintaining clear communication and integrity by clearing any issue that arises with the leadership team in the moment, quickly. This allows me to stay focused on what is going on for others and not get distracted by my own stories and emotional reactions about myself and members of the team and participants.
Repetition is a powerful thing, and by modeling Haven concepts for others over and over I am finding new things all the time. I come up against myself often and have the opportunity to be honest with myself and others about what is going on for me. This is still not always easy or comfortable. Outside of The Haven it is easy to slip into survival mode and shut down certain aspects of myself that are painful or challenging. Interning gives me an opportunity to reconnect with myself on a more honest level and “come home” to myself. My wise one.
There is a feeling of sinking in when I am interning. I have learned through this practice how to trust myself, including aspects of myself I did not think I could trust. The darker parts of my psyche, I have always tried to hide from the world. To me, the Haven model of self-actualization is like learning a martial art. It is very much a discipline to me which needs to be practiced every day.
There is nowhere to hide, and no need. Interning for me is a stepping forward in my life through what is taught The Haven. Through supporting others in this work, I continue to move my own life forward.
Are you interested in furthering your learning at The Haven? There are many ways that you can go deeper or be more engaged in what’s offered here. At The Haven, you can “choose your own adventure.” There is no “right way,” and the path will be different for everyone. If you’re looking for suggestions of where to begin or where to continue, our registrars give excellent, well-informed advice. Depending on where you’re at in your journey and where you’re looking to go, like Scott, you can set sail in the ultimate adventure of training at The Haven. To learn more about interning and working toward a Certificate in Haven Counseling or Diploma in Haven Counselling or Group Facilitation, click here.